Today we took a trip about 2 hours North of Rome to the little town of Montepulciano. It's always had a strong connection with Rome, dating back to the days when it was an Etruscan town and made an agreement with Rome against the Samnites during the founding days of the Roman Republic. Today it's a small oval-shaped town, famous for its wine. Here's a panoramic shot of part of the town right as we drove up.
Montepulciano is a walled town and does not allow vehicular traffic. Here's Augustin standing at one of the gates.
When we got inside the town we got a magnificent view of the Tuscan landscape.
I've never been in a town that had such a concentration of wine bars, wine shops, wineries, and wine-related merchandise. Here's a picture of mom and dad sampling some wine in a little shop.
On the street we found a vendor selling sculptures he does by hand. We couldn't resist buying this little statue of the wild boar, the symbol of Florence. We decided to call it Sporco Porco which means "Dirty Pig" and is appropriate for a number of reasons. 1) Pigs are dirty, 2) the pig is made of dirt (clay), 3) it rhymes. We'll be calling him Sporky for short though.
Speaking of pottery, mom decided to investigate this shop selling hand-painted Tuscan-themed ceramics.
Next we stopped at the church of Il Gesu, which was very small, very white, and very nice.
It had an illusionist dome as well!
Montepulciano is divided into eight Contradas or neighborhoods dating back to medieval times. They are all clearly marked today with their respective flags. Here you can see where one Contrada begins and the other one ends.
Another great shot of Tuscan scenery.
And a shot of mom and dad on the overlook.
We also stopped in a shop famous for its copper. It's been featured in numerous American magazines and the current artisan is the third generation. Alex and I had great fun admiring this still. Oh the possibilities!
All of this fellow's stuff is handmade, no machinery.
A very nice entryway to a house in Montepulciano.
We stopped in the church of Our Lady of the Assumption, where we came across this massive della Robbia. It was quite ironic to me, because Luca della Robbia developed a unique glaze that made his art suitable for withstanding the elements, thus enabling it to be displayed outside. Yet this piece was INSIDE!
This is the magnificent fifteenth century triptych done by Taddeo di Bartolo, a Florentine painter and a student of Giotto.
Here's the famous well of Montepulciano, which bears two lions and two Griffons, the symbol of Montepulciano.
We had the opportunity to tour a wine cellar beneath a wine shop. Here's Augustin being silly....
One of the artifacts they had scattered throughout the cellar was a small cannon.
They also had a "Museum of Instruments of Torture" which consisted of two glass display cases filled with various pinchers, screws, hatchets, ropes, hooks and other painful things.
Yikes! A real honest-to-goodness block for beheading someone!
There are several Etruscan tombs you can visit, as well as several ancient pieces of Etruscan pottery displayed in niches.
Here's the upper level of the wine shop.
They had truffles there. It was 8 Euros for ONE!
Our last stop as we were leaving was the church of St. Blaise. It is in the form of a Greek Cross and was built in 1529.
Here's the very ornate, yet very simple interior of the church.
And here's a view of the cypress-lined walkway, leaving the church and Montepulciano. Goodbye Montepulciano!